Monday, January 21, 2013

Climate Change and Biodiversity

climate change and biodiversity, bark beetles, coniferous forest
Pine damage in Rocky Mtn NP due to bark beetles

You've heard of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the IPCC). This week we're going to start hearing about the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (the IPBES). If only the powers that be could have come up with a name that would lend itself to a better acronym. Nevertheless, in the midst of the sixth mass extinction, it's high time nations met to start dealing formally with the crisis and begin rolling back the high rate of species extinctions.

During President Obama's second inauguration speech today, he paid special attention to climate change Though his measures, like increasing home appliance efficiency, reducing emissions from power plants and making the federal government itself more effective, are progressive, they fall short of the sweeping changes that are necessary to prevent the planet's temperature from increasing by 2 degree celsius. As Thomas Lovejoy describes in his NY Times Op-Ed, we're already seeing the nasty effects of climate change at the current global warming of 0.8-0.9 degrees Celsius. For example, the present temperature increase has now tipped the balance in favor of bark beetles in western North America that are now decimating coniferous forests. Most of the 900 known extinctions since the year 1600 were caused by the introduction of invasive species, habitat destruction, pollution, and over-exploitation. Given the sensitivity of ecosystems to small changes in temperature, we could soon see climate change vault to the front of the list as the cause of species extinctions, particularly if we see the predicted 2 degree Celsius rise.  It's time to get serious about this stuff.

 Read the rest of Lovejoy's op-ed here. As for the IPBES, bring it on!

No comments:

Post a Comment